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Real estate Q&A: How can I make sure my daughter keeps my house after I die?

Gary M. Singer, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: I want to make sure that my daughter keeps my house after I pass. Can I add her to my title now without any problems? Can I give a deed to hold and record later? What is the easiest way? -- James

A: Dealing with financial and property issues shortly after a loved one passes away is difficult. You are kind to seek to spare your daughter this chore while she is grieving your loss. Properly planning your estate will save effort and money at a difficult time.

However, it is crucial to get it right because planning poorly can make matters worse. The maxim that you get have it fast, good, or cheap -- but not all three -- holds true when it comes to estate planning.

The best solution for your family will depend on your personal situation. There is no one-size-fits-all estate plan.

Adding your daughter to the title of your house may be a great solution, but it might cause you to lose certain tax advantages, open your home to her creditors or restrict your future decision-making about the property. In my experience, it is rarely the best solution.

Signing a deed and holding it to be recorded later, called a "pocket-deed," seems like an easy way to retain control of the property and avoid probate, but rarely works out according to plan. Deeds filed after the owner dies are viewed with suspicion and are often invalidated when challenged.


About The Writer

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.

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